In the news...

June 14th, 2018 /

This week, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a 20-item list of interconnected actions to achieve Zero Hunger and help fix the world’s food and agricultural systems in accordance with Sustainable Development Agenda priorities. Titled Transforming food and agriculture to achieve the SDGs, the report suggests how to strengthen food security, generate employment and improve development and economic growth, while preserving natural resources and addressing climate change.

The actions include: “Enhance soil health and restore land”, “Improve nutrition and promote balanced diets”, “Prevent and protect against shocks: enhance resilience” and “Mainstream biodiversity conservation and protect ecosystem functions”. The last action on the list focuses on implementing action plans to conserve biodiversity and genetic resources for food to contribute to sustainable development, food security and nutrition, monitor plant and animal biodiversity  loss, support for gene banks and ensuring that crop genetic resources are shared by all.

“For the first time, FAO has put together a set of interconnected tools that can help fix our broken food systems, and show that from the roots of sustainable food and agriculture come the fruits of transformation,” says Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Natural Resources.  According to the report itself, “Feeding the 10 billion people projected to live on planet earth in 2050 must aim to go beyond producing more with less to balancing the focus on quality and diversity, linking productivity to sustainability and addressing the needs of people.” To read the full report, visit this link.

In related news, the Crop Trust has published the 2017 edition of its annual report, listing its efforts and accomplishments in protecting crop biodiversity. Accomplishments during that year include more than 64,000 crop varieties added to the Svalbard global seed vault, 1,200 crop wild relatives collected, and $36.8 million in grants given to conserve crop diversity. To access the report, follow this link.

This week we also feature several biotech stories coming out of Nigeria, including a piece in the Herald on the current thought around biotech and food security in the country; an interview with Rufus Ebegba, Nigeria’s Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) on how the country certifies and approves GM food; and a call to President Buhari to sign the food security bill passed by the National Assembly a year and a half ago.

We welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!


FAO: 20 actions to transforming food and agriculture – new tool lists concrete steps ways to speed up implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda

The Crop Trust Annual Report 2017
Crop Trust

Nigeria: Boosting food security via biotechnology
The Herald

Nigeria: How we certify, approve genetically modified food in Nigeria – DG Biosafety Agency

Nigeria: Assent to Food Security Bill passed by National Assembly, Buhari urged

AgBio news

Africa’s first biofortified pearl millet variety aims to combat anaemia

Ethiopia approves environmental release of Bt cotton and grants special permit for GM maize

Kenya starts planting biotech cotton under national performance trials

Ghana launches nationwide census on agriculture

Towards a Late Blight resistant potato for Africa
CIP International Potato Center

Breeding a better cowpea : Q&A with Timothy Close, Director of the Feed the Future Climate-Resilient Cowpea Innovation Lab

GE rice transports micronutrients more efficiently

Indian scientists develop GMO mustard with higher yields
Genetic Literacy Project

Global vegetable supply could plummet by more than a third due to climate change, says study
The Independent

Arizona researchers develop GM corn that silences genes for aflatoxin
AG Web

A tobacco-derived insect repellent – for crops
New Atlas

The importance of improving food safety in Africa

Ghana: Journalists trained In biotech In agriculture
Modern Ghana

Minimising further insect pests invasions in Africa

African Union launches reports on emerging technologies for sustainable growth

Over 235,000 small farming households in Africa have benefited from adopting conservation agriculture methods through a program called SIMLESA

How are plants bred to be biofortified? Why is it important?
Sustainable, Secure Food Blog

‘Sexy plants’ on track to replace harmful pesticides to protect crops
The Guardian

An economist’s perspective on plant sciences: Under-appreciated, over-regulated and under-funded
Global Plant Council

Best practice

Uganda: When to use pesticides
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Uganda: Coffee farmer expects to earn Shs16m per acre with high yielding and disease resistant plants
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Morocco’s OCP launches soil fertility study in Ethiopia
Morocco World News

Ethiopia: Vermiculture – fertilizing land, profiting youth

Great Green Wall brings hope, greener pastures to Africa’s Sahel
IPS News


Promoting biodiversity across all agricultural sectors ‘fundamental’ — FAO chief 
UN News

Climate change

Scientists are calling on African governments to prioritise efforts to deal with climate change as they warn it is spreading fast diseases and poverty on the continent

Conflicts, weather place heavy burden on pastoralists in Nigeria, others – FAO

Why climate-smart agriculture is crucial to Africa

A warming planet could zap nutrition from rice that feeds the world

After slow progress on climate action for agriculture in Bonn, what’s needed?

Nigeria: Movie Review – ‘Swallow’ – Climate Change and Food Security in Nigeria


Ethiopia: Agriculture – engine of development for Ethiopia

Listening to Africa’s future farmers  

Index insurance has big returns for small-scale cotton farmers and their local economies in West Africa

Small-scale cross-border trade in Africa: Why it matters and how it should be supported

Gaps in agricultural tech scale-up hindering growth

AfDB, Rockefeller in Sh300m Africa agriculture fund
Business Daily

Agribusiness: Africa’s untapped potential
The Nation

Women agripreneurs should be strengthened in Africa
The New Times

Farmers call for agricultural insurance products as vulnerability to losses grow
The New Times

Empowering women by supporting small-scale cross-border trade

The importance of improving food safety in Africa 

Energy and innovation

Uganda: President Museveni urges investors to plant solar pumps for agriculture

Governments must move to harness game-changing potential of drones in Africa

Food security

East Africa: EAC food security agenda tabled in Arusha

Pests and diseases

IITA holds training on techniques for weed management in cassava
The Guardian


Three reasons why you should care about food security policy

There’s more to policy than you think: the three legs of the policy stool

The GM debate

EU study trashes anti-GM paper by French expert who Jairam Ramesh cited to ban Bt Brinjal

Dethroning Anti-GM anarchy: The Next Green Revolution in India?

Reflecting on science, society and GMOs
Alliance for Science

Lessons learned from the GMO debate could pave way for public acceptance of gene drives
Genetic Literacy Project


Event: First All-Africa Conference on Synthetic Pesticides, Environment, Human and Animal Health, June 18-20, Nairobi, Kenya.

Seeding Labs need lab equipment at your university or research institute? Seeding Labs Instrumental Access program is now accepting applications! Deadline: 27 July

USAID seeks comments on the draft program description for its new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Research, Capacity and Policy Influence

Event: 2018 IPBO Conference “Scientific Innovation for a Sustainable Development of African Agriculture” 30-31 August, Ghent, Belgium
Ghent University

Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Journalism Awards launched


GMO Beyond The Science II
Genetic Literacy Project

Biosciences eastern and central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute (BecA – ILRI) Hub

Crop Prospects and Food Situation, June 2018